Shh! Sister Helen doesn’t know about this…

We want to get Sister Helen Prejean the Presidential Medal of Freedom…and we need your help!

For more than three decades Sister Helen Prejean has been toiling without rest to end the death penalty in the USA. For half of that time she has been visiting Manuel Ortiz, an innocent man on Louisiana’s death row. Manuel thinks Sr. Helen deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom, not for what she’s done for him, but for what she has done for all of us.

We agree with Manuel.

How can you help?

There’s no set process for nominating someone for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but personal emails or letters to President Obama are the best way to have the president consider Sister Helen for the honor. The more emails the better, but each one should be an individual expression.

So if you believe Sister Helen deserves this honor we ask you to write an email (preferred) or a letter to the president making a personal request. We’ll give you some pointers below to things you might want to say, but please use your own words.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

To send email or a letter

Click this link to send an email to President Obama asking for the Medal for Sister Helen.

If you prefer to send a letter, type it (or write as neatly as possible) on 8 ½ by 11 paper. Include your address both on the envelope and on the letter itself and, if you have an email address, include that in the letter, too. Then mail your letter to:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

What should you say?

Here are some suggestions for points you might make in your letter:

  • Sister Helen is the world’s leading opponent of the death penalty and has worked tirelessly for justice for decades.
  • President Obama has indicated that he has serious concerns about the death penalty and especially how unfairly it is applied. By giving Sr. Helen the Medal of Freedom he can make a statement about the death penalty without needing to take a dedicated stance against it.
  • The death penalty is one of the great civil rights issues of our time. Before President Obama leaves office, he should take the opportunity to stand on the right side of history on this issue.
  • Race is a hugely important factor in how the death penalty is applied unfairly. President Obama can take leadership on this issue that is important to people of color by honoring Sr. Helen. Especially at this time when the issue of race and justice is at a boiling point in our country, giving Sister Helen the Medal of Freedom is a strong symbol.
  • The death penalty sends a signal to all Americans that violence is an acceptable response to violence. In the light of recent events in Minnesota, Baton Rouge and Dallas, now is a particularly apt time to say “No! We will not respond to violence with violence.”
  • By giving Sister Helen the medal, President Obama will encourage discussion on this issue. Most people are ignorant of how the death penalty works in the USA; such a high profile award will ensure more people learn about it.
  • It’s the “Medal of Freedom”. Shouldn’t it be going to someone who deserves the title?
  • Sister Helen is 77 years old. She deserves this recognition while she is still alive and kicking.

Chose one or two points and put them in your own words. It would be even better if you have your own story to share about Sister Helen and how her work has affected someone in your life.

Thanks! And remember, mum’s the word!